Kara Alt, 4K teacher, created Monty the Money Monkey to visit her students on Money Mondays.
Kara Alt teaches 4-year-old Kindergarten at General Mitchell Elementary School in West Allis, Wisconsin. She shared with me just how much the class I taught last month at Concordia University-Waukesha in partnership with Wisconsin Education Innovations impacted her ability to bring financial literacy into her early childhood classroom. It was wonderful to see how Kara implemented techniques presented; such as choosing a set time, creating an inspirational character, and using children's literature to teach age-appropriate basic financial and economic concepts. I asked Kara to share with me the details on how she put it all together:
After taking the one-credit graduate course, From Books to Bucks: Linking Literature and Money for Young Earners (Pre-K-3rd) led by Jennifer Guenther, I was inspired to develop a way to integrate financial literacy into my 4K classroom. First, I decided to designate Mondays as "Money Mondays." Next, I had to think up an exciting, fun way to help get students engaged and motivated about financial literacy.
After seeing the financial literacy characters that Jennifer created through the use of puppets and props, I came up with my own puppet character: Monty the Money Monkey. Monty has a money bag where he keeps books about financial literacy to share with my class.
We already have puppets that we use to introduce the letters of the alphabet to the children and they absolutely love them. So, Monty the Money Monkey fit right in and was a big hit for all. Monty even has his own wallet and piggy bank that he carries with him.
The first Monday that Monty came to visit I placed him in the chair that I usually sit in when I read books to the children. In the morning when they arrived I told them a new friend came to visit with his special bag and in it he brought a special book for me to read to them about money.
The children were very excited to meet Monty. As they came over to our gathering carpet, whispers and giggles filled the air. It was perfect! Monty has velcro arms and legs, so I can put him around my neck and body to hold him. His mouth also opens and closes to make him talk. I explained to the children that Monty is a very special monkey that can talk, but only I can hear him. (A technique Jennifer suggested for those of us not comfortable with doing puppet voices.) I assured them that I would tell them everything he said though! The children were on the edge of their seats just waiting to hear what Monty had to say to them. At this point, I showed the children the bag that Monty brought with him and took out Monty's book, wallet, and piggy bank.
Conversation about money was immediately ignited and the children began to share their background knowledge and personal connections regarding money. With the Christmas season a few weeks away and the children all talking about what they want from Santa, we had a perfect segue into a conversation about "wants and needs". It just so happens Monty the Money Monkey brought a book about "wants and needs" in his special money book bag for me to read to the class.
Now, the foundation for financial literacy has been set and each week Monty comes to visit on "Money Mondays" and he brings new books each time that feature various financial literacy themes that follow a developmental sequence aligning with Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy .
~Kara Alt, General Mitchell Elementary School in West Allis, Wisconsin
Hi! I'm Jennifer! Program Manager of the Early$tart=Money$mart Program